You undoubtedly know Reddit. It’s a media site and forum driven by its user community. It’s made up of pages called subreddits. Subject matters in Reddit span everything imaginable from kiddie stuff to NSFW (not safe for work) material.
Reddit users come online to the site to post their opinions and information, comment on other people’s entries, and vote when they think an item is good or not. The topic range is exhaustive, and there’s undoubtedly a lot of material suited for every possible user on earth. And yes, there’s also stuff there that is unsafe for work or minors.
Even with the minimalistic description, we’ve provided for Reddit here, you probably already realised that it’s not a platform suited for every age.
Popularity decides how the content is offered. If a given article becomes popular with the community, the chances are better to make it to the front page. Texts, images, videos, links, and polls are all standard material.
Using security tools like VPNs to have a safer Reddit experience aside, the site itself seems to be more friendly for your anonymity and your privacy because it doesn’t ask you to give it any personal information to keep an account. You don’t have to provide it with your real name or your primary email address. As a matter of fact, many users use anonymous or fake accounts to participate in Reddit activities. Multiple accounts are welcomed in Reddit (and not allowed in other social media such as Facebook).
Remember that while you can use fake data and secondary emails to open a Reddit account, the site collects accurate geolocations from its users. Of course, it ensures that nobody else sees that information, but it’s still something you should know.
But if you take a deeper look at Reddit, is it really a good site for privacy? Let’s find out.
Reddit and privacy safety
There is no digital answer for this (yes or no). The most accurate thing we can say is that it depends. If it’s your data that worries you, then the answer is that you should be primarily safe. Firstly, there’s no need for you to give Reddit any actual data about yourself. Secondly, the site has a robust infrastructure that should keep everybody safe from hackers.
But keep in mind that Reddit is one of the top websites in the world in terms of traffic. It’s too popular, and popular sites always become a target for hackers. That means that it’s a site constantly under attack.
Over the last two years, Reddit was subject to a couple of high-profile attacks. Reddit shares data with government agencies and organizations, but it’s never released any official figures about those two attacks. It’s not released information about the number of affected users.
Reddit grants its users a good deal of power over their information. You can decide if people can search for your username on the site or if they can see when you post new items. Any comment you post to another user’s content can have the degree of privacy you want. It also features a private window that you can use to have a conversation with other users.
But public conversations make Reddit a household name and not the internal “chat” service. Most of the material on the site consists of those public conversations precisely. You can share your thoughts, opinions, instructions, questions, or content. You can get answers to your questions feedback, bring something to the table for a subreddit, or come up with one of your own. Reddit is, in this way, very reminiscent of how interactions used to be on the internet early days in services like Usenet.
Can you get a virus from Reddit?
The platform itself won’t give you a virus. But you could find content in there that could harm your security by giving you a virus or weakening your protection.
Wrongdoers can be Reddit users too. And they can post malicious media. For example, a link that takes you to a phishing site or that makes you the victim of another scam without your knowledge.
Technical instructions are also widespread in Reddit, so you can find instructions to install an application on your computer or device. Also, instructions to change your account settings so that the bad guys can access it more easily. That could happen, and it’s within Reddit’s rules.
Can you trust Reddit’s content?
You should never trust any information you find online if it’s not from a well-known and reputable site, and that applies to Reddit and all its content too. So, as a matter of principle, no, you should not trust Reddit without good reason. Consider that a lot of the site’s content is censored or intended for adults or experts –if you have teen kids at home, monitoring their navigation habits is vital. So news you find on Reddit is not to be considered the Bible but to be taken with a grain of salt.
Consider also that each subreddit has a moderator that manages the content that can be posted or published. So the validity of any post depends on the moderator’s taste and preferences; it’s not about objective truth.
To make things worse, Reddit withholds information from its users. But not from law enforcement agencies. We already mentioned that the security breaches Reddit suffered in the past are still secret stuff.
Reddit is biased. No, there is no general bias in the site, but every subreddit manages things in its way. There’s no way around that, even less now as the original Reddit format became history by giving way to the subreddit structure.
Keep in mind that while the site remains a free platform overall, the bias in each subreddit is such that differing points of view al seldom appreciated or welcome. And censorship is a thing with Reddit. Try to create and publish your own content there, so you begin to understand how hard it is to get anything published. Seemingly trivial things as improper title formatting or a moderator who doesn’t like your opinion are enough to block new material.
So is Reddit worth all the trouble?
Some users consider Reddit to be the internet’s new front page. For others, it’s yet another social media platform, and not too interesting at that. And well, how vital Reddit really depends on how helpful it is to you. It can be your front page if you find a subreddit that keeps updated high-quality information on a subject relevant to you. Otherwise, it can be exceedingly dull and hard to navigate.
Reddit allows you to report or block posts so that the content goes away if you don’t like it. But the site’s policy in that regard is bland if you are a parent worried about your children in Reddit (web or app). Many subreddits are meant for adults only, even if they are not explicitly sexual, which is another reason parents pay close attention.
Porn is not Reddit’s thing at all. It has an adult filter that bocks NSFW posts, but nothing automatic is ever perfect. The filter will indeed prevent the most blatant content from reaching children, but messages or more subtle and obnoxious items can still slip away and reach children and teens who shouldn’t know about them.
And children protection is not Reddit’s thing at all, either. The site lacks any built-in tools for parents to moderate their children’s experience. The search function can and will find adult content, messages from unknown users are an issue, and inappropriate material always slips through the cracks. That’s how Reddit always was, even under the older format.
Staying safe in Reddit
Security is lax in Reddit, as we’ve discussed previously. So it would be best if you considered following some standard practices to keep yourself and your family safe as Reddit users.
Reddit doesn’t need your real name or age, so don’t give it. Your real email, the one you use for family or business, does not belong in association with a Reddit account. Use another one. Use strong passwords and password managers.
Use two-factor authentication whenever available. Do not do surveys. Do not give away any personal information, not even clues –no need to tell other Reddit users who employ you, where you have lived in the past, etc. And last but not least: do not click on ads. You don’t know where they will take you or how they use your data.
The wrap up
Reddit has never pretended to be a family-oriented site. And it’s a good thing because it’s not.
While there is nothing wrong with the platform itself, its very catholic appeal to all kinds of users interested in all sorts of subjects and behaviours means that children and teens using the platform can find themselves being accosted by child predators. Also, provocative texts or comments, explicit stuff, pornography, and online bullying are all in the mix. If you add to all that the ability to contact strangers, you have a complete picture.
If minors at your home are Reddit users, then it’s your responsibility to make sure they stay safe and unmolested, not Reddit’s. And no, the platform is not very interested in helping you with that task. So you are more or less alone.
With all that being said, Reddit remains a platform that can be very useful to many people, your children included. Everybody can stay safe as a Reddit user as long as you are willing to adopt some basic rules about privacy and security.